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Academia for Academics…?

Don’t teach the medical students about HIV, although it’s a reality but a taboo, and don’t teach the students of History about Nazism or Taimur-Genghis; they may turn into one of such maniac. Don’t teach the students of Psychiatry about depression, they themselves may be a victim of the same. Lastly, don’t even think of teaching the law students about the realities and shortcomings of the society for they may have a prejudiced mind-set. Does the logic seems to be in its place? Absolutely not, nor it could ever be perceived to be an intelligent one

Just like any other question on a provision of the Indian Penal Code, the 3rd semester end-term examination paper of Indian Penal Code which was conducted on 7th December 2018 at GGS Indraprastha University, New Delhi, had the following question:

Q.1. (a) “Ahmed, a Muslim kills a cow in a market in the presence of Rohit Tushar, Manav and Rahul, who are Hindus. Has Ahmed committed any offence?”


Now, if you ask any law student, (S)he would say that the question is pertaining to the Sections 153-A and 295-A of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalizes “ Deliberate and malicious acts, intending to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs”. The impugned question has a simple illustration which is to be analysed in the light of these two provisions i.e. Ss 153-A and 295-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.  But it has taken an unfortunate turn and has resulted into a political issue.

As reported by a daily The Indian Express, The Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia wrote the following note to the Higher Education Secretary on 11th December:

It has been brought to my notice through media reports that a highly objectionable question was asked in the LLB third semester exam in the college, namely School Law at Narela, affiliated to GGSIPU. How could such a reprehensible question with a communal overtone be framed for an LLB exam? Secretary (Higher Education) to get the matter inquired into and status report be sent to the undersigned within five days.”

The minister terms the question as a “highly objectionable” and a “reprehensible” one. But if you go on to analyse the same with the logic that confirms your mental outfit at the very outset, there is not an iota of academic incorrectness in this question.

It is reported, through various sources, that the reasons for such condemnation by the minister lies into the recent incident in Bulandshahar and the unfortunate lynching of 2015, but even if one goes by the thinking of the minister, then also can you expect a lawyer to be without the knowledge of legal provisions pertaining to such incidents in order to appear before a court of law? Who shall conduct the prosecution of such incidents if the legal issues are not taught in the law schools out of fear of being “politically incorrect”? Moreover, does the minister really believes that law students, who supposedly are one of the most aware lot of students, frame their minds by answering one question in an examination?

Interestingly, it was not the first time that such a question was asked in an examination conducted by the university. The IPC 3rd Semester paper in the year 2016 had the following question:

Q.1. e : ‘X’ a Mohammedan kills a cow in an open place in the presence of 4-5 Hindus. What Offence he has committed?

The question again was supposed to be answered in the light of the same provisions of IPC i.e. 153A and 295 A. But there was no controversy that was created at that time. Moreover, it was more proximate to the unfortunate incident that happened on the issue on which the impugned question is based, but none objected to it. Infact, the minister was on the same portfolio, but he didn’t even expressed his views, leave apart writing to the Higher Education Secretary.

Another unfortunate incident that has followed the “un-intelligent” action by the minister is a regret expressed by the Registrar of the University. The Telegraph quotes him as saying:

We regret this question. It is, of course, communal in nature. The question stands deleted and no marks will be given for it, irrespective of whether a student has attempted it. The controller of examinations will issue an advisory to the examiners so that such things don’t happen in future.

Why to express regret? Regret that the students were made aware to the realities of the society? Regret that the students were made to think as to the legal mechanism available to curb such mishaps? Or Regret that although we were “Academically correct, we missed out to be “Politically correct” in the eyes of few?
What shall we achieve by deleting the question? Its not about 5- marks in an examination, but aren’t we leaving an impression on the young minds that we would bow not to academic correctness but to political incorrectness?

Legal fraternity, especially the law students have always been the exemplification of idealism and zeal for societal progress, so why keep them in cocoon when the question of sensitive realities of the society pops-up?  Is it very wise to be a Draupadi in the issues which are sensitive for the society? Why should one stop the students to ponder and deliberate upon the present and sensitive realities of the society? As Justice Kurian Joseph said in his retirement speech: “Silence of the law-men is more dangerous to the society than the violence of lay-men”.

The academia, in order to retain and enhance its glory, must stand firm for the academic correctness rather than political correctness.

Nitish Rai Parwani

Nitish is a Law student at GGS, Indraprastha University. A renowned name in mooting, he has deep interest and expertise in disciplines of constitutionalism, philosophy and criminal law. A disciple of Swami Vivekananda, he is also an active Member of Vivekananda Youth Forum, Ramakrishna Mission, New Delhi.

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